The first time I ever saw chives I thought it was grass. Since then I sure am glad I became acquainted with this herb.
They have a smell and taste very similar to onion, and are in the same family as onion, leeks
and garlic. Chives feature straw-like leaves that are hollow.
They are mainly grown for their leaves (or stems) and not the bulb. Chives are sometimes substituted for green onions
due to the their milder onion taste.
When using chives, it is best to add them towards the end of the cooking process to help retain their flavor.
My favorite ways to use chives are as a topping on baked potatoes, or on top of eggs or omeletes.
The big purple, or white flower is also edible and sometimes used as a garnish.
The two most popular varieties are 'Common
' and 'Garlic
' chives. When I can find them at my local garden center, I pick up the Garlic Chives variety.
I prefer the garlic-y taste of the garlic variety in my soups, baked potatoes and other foods. Here are some helpful tips for growing chives.
How to Plant & Care for Chives
Plant chives in an average, well-drained soil in raised beds, the garden, or in containers. They are evergreen in warmer climates but die back to the ground in cooler zones in winter.
Chives are somewhat drought tolerate and don't require plant food or much attention besides regular cutting.
Chives can be invasive and become overcrowded, so dig and divide clumps every few years and plant the divisions in a new location, or give them to your gardening friends, if they want to grow some.
You may grow them from seed in early spring, by division, or by transplanting seedlings. There really is no need to worry about spacing, it has been my experience that they can be planted as close as three inches apart.
How to Harvest Chives
As mentioned previously, chives are grown for their leaf stems, not for the bulb or root. They are ready to cut 75-85 days when grown from seed.
Snip chives as needed by cutting through them just above the ground with scissors or a sharp knife.
They can be dried but retain their color and flavor better when frozen.
Pest & Diseases of Chives
The great thing about adding chives to your vegetable garden is that they are pest-repellent. There are not many insects or other pests that will mess with chives.
They even help to repel Japanese beetles. That is why it is a good idea to inter-plant them with other vegetables such as tomatoes
, and cucumbers
They are a very interesting addition to many meals and a great addition to your herb garden.
The first time you sprinkle some fresh chives on a baked potato with butter and bacon bits, you'll be glad you grew this herb.